Posted by: minnow | February 22, 2009

PRAYER 2

I left off last time asking the question: How is it possible to pray without ceasing? It is an instruction in scripture so it must be possible. We can find examples in scripture of good pray-ers and bad pray-ers (Luke 18:9-14), and good prayers and bad prayers (Matthew 6:5-6). The disciples asked Jesus how to pray and He gave them what we commonly call the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Of course we have added a little flourish at the end: “For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.” But, that is only because we want God to know we know our place. (Ahem). The gospels often speak of Jesus going to a quiet place to pray. And we have a powerful picture of Christ pleading with the Father in prayer just before He was taken, ultimately to be crucified.

One of the most fascinating accounts of prayer in scripture, for me, occurs in Mark 9:14-29 right after the transfiguration. A man brought his son to some of the disciples but they were unsuccessful in casting out the demon which possessed the boy. In verse 29 Jesus tells them, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Now the transfiguration is a great read and it has served as an illustration in its share of sermons but I would really have liked to see what was happening with the disciples when that demon refused to come out of that man’s son.

You see, I have heard a good number of people pray asking for healing. The enemy is rebuked, bound, and cast to the foot of the cross to await judgment. The blood of Jesus is poured out, His stripes are called on to heal, and His name is used to seal the deal. Now a days (as opposed to in New Testament times), if nothing happens exactly as planned the individual is told to believe in the spirit for what is not quite evident in the flesh and the pray-ers move on to the next…victim. Yes. I am being cynical and sarcastic and negative and judgmental. Yes, and probably hypocritical, too. You can bring all that up in the comments if you so choose. I am also trying to make a point.

When we use Jesus to try and achieve our purposes we will not meet with much success. The cross and the blood and His name are not talisman. And, scripture is not a chemistry book—come up with the right formula and voila: healing! Maybe it is because I am so sarcastic in my head (and yes, sometimes in my writing/words) but I like to think that every now and then Jesus uses just a touch of stinging wit to make His point. In my head when I hear his words: “This kind can come out only by prayer” I hear that little zing. I mean, do we really think the disciples were not “praying”, in the classic sense of prayer?! Come on! The disciples had to have been frustrated. They had witnessed Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, and calming storms. They had been a part of His feeding the five thousand and had already been sent out on their own at least once with “power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1). So what’s up with this stubborn demon?

Too often we, who are trying to pray the “demons” out (or the healing in), look for something to blame when “it” does not “work”. We do not have enough faith. They do not have enough faith. Someone is in sin! More often than not, at least this is my perspective, it is a question of needing to clean out our ears more than a question of building up our faith. Perhaps we need to repent but only if when we begin to listen the Spirit heads us in that direction. The pain and difficulty our hurting brothers and sisters go through is just as frequently increased (as it is decreased) by the undiscerning prayers and unwarranted advice of otherwise well intended intercessors and prayer teams.

Surly all the differences in variety, frequency, occasion, and intensity of prayers mentioned in the Bible should give us a clue that prayer is NOT a one size fits all endeavor. I think my cyber friend Randi touched on something in her comment under Part 1 when she said: “Perhaps pray without ceasing [is]…looking at and facing everything in our life through the place of acknowledging He is with us, and we know Him and we are in relationship with Him.” Relationship. Prayer without ceasing relationship. Live up to what you already know relationship.

I have often heard people refer to prayer as conversation with God. Yet these same people (myself included if I am honest) often treat prayer as an opportunity to tell God what we want or what we want Him to do. In other words it is more like writing a letter to Santa then spending time listening to a good friend’s heart over a cup of great coffee. The more I contemplate prayer without ceasing the more I wonder if it is not like being aware of our breathing. I think to pray without ceasing is to grab hold of the life giving awareness that the Spirit is, that He is present as counselor and friend, not just when we formally acknowledge Him but continuously, that in our comings and our goings, our sleeping and our waking, He is–with us, in us, around us. His counsel, His encouragement, His companionship is on going, without end, unceasing.

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Responses

  1. I will write more tomorrow… but loved this entry as always.

    I have to give “credit” (?) or some sort of shout out at least to Shelby because God used her to plant those seeds in my heart regarding thinking WITH Him and of Him throughout the day. not having a life separate from Him.

    Anyway! 🙂 both of you have been used to plant the seeds! So I guess I felt the need to say that… write more tomorrow! 🙂


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